Manufacturing Advancements Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Since our inception in 1977, we have explored many uncharted areas. Pioneering has been what has brought success. This has involved a great deal of problem solving, creativity and especially risk taking. As we reflect over the last year and envision the future, these are the skills that will help lead the way.

We are excited about our 30,000 sf addition that will be adding 50% more to our manufacturing space. This space is an incredible opportunity for the entire company. The new space will primarily hold a state of the art injection molding facility, including a permanent cleanroom. This cleanroom will be specially designed to account for the most efficient use of energy. Most molding cleanrooms require a large amount of energy to compensate for heat created by the injection molding machines in an enclosed, climate controlled area. To circumvent this, we have decided to build the room with special openings in the walls so we can put the heat generating portion of the machine into the main facility. This will release the heat into our facility where it will be handled like that of our other machines while maintaining the controlled climate required by the cleanroom and using much less energy. The rest of the addition will maintain the highest attention to energy efficiency including use of radiant in floor heating as well as double insulated walls and roof. We will be incorporating daylighting through the use of clear story windows (instead of skylights) since the roofs are going to contain solar panels. By adding this new space for molding, it will open up space for utilization and expansion of CNC Machining and Additive Manufacturing capabilities. All departments will have equal opportunity to expand their capacities by 50%.

For more than 20 years of its existence, Harbec has been a leader in sustainable manufacturing. We do this predominantly through energy efficiency. For almost 3 years, we have been developing an energy storage solution that would complete our energy management system. It is our goal to have back up battery storage for our micro grid. Everything has been designed and we are currently soliciting suppliers and providers of the necessary resources. This will help us more efficiently utilize all of our renewable energy and to attain 100% resiliency. This means there will never be a natural disaster or situation that will interrupt our power and therefore disrupt our production. It will ultimately help all areas of our energy management strategy work more effectively together. Incorporating this into our company is not only beneficial to us as a positive bottom line impact but will also eliminate risk of a power interruption that would cause damage to work in progress. The savings are passed on to the customer to insure consistent quality and on time delivery will be maintained.

At Harbec, it’s not enough to be Carbon Neutral. As we are always looking for ways to improve, we are investigating the idea of being Carbon Positive or have zero impact (learn more). The idea is to take full responsibility not just for what you consume but also for what you indirectly cause as a result of your presence. We have not yet committed to this but are considering it and wanted to share this progressive idea.  Harbec strives to attain “Zero Waste” by 2025. While the purist definition of Zero Waste is unattainable, Harbec, like many others have decided to define our objective by how much waste is diverted from landfill. Our goal diversion: 90%. By reducing, recycling and reusing what we can, we strive to throw away as little as possible. Harbec efforts are in redefining the system. Moving from a linear resource economy of using and disposing to a circular resource economy that mimics nature. In late 2018 we began our journey at a diversion rate of 70%. As of January 1st 2020 we have stayed on track to attain our goal by 2025.

Additive Manufacturing continues to be an integral part of our total manufacturing solution. We don’t consider it to be specialty or a service. It’s the future of manufacturing. We are building the department with people that not only understand additive, but subtractive processes as well. These toolmakers of the future toolmaker are individuals that will have even better skills and ideas than someone with experience in one or the other area. Furthermore, we are pursuing the latest additive technology that will allow us to offer our customers the highest level of engineering requirements for polymers. We’re investigating a process that at will allow us to make parts that are as strong as steel but half the weight with equal or better corrosion and chemical resistance. It will make use of engineering grade resins similar to the hundreds we have in stock, utilized for Injection Molding and CNC Machining, to complete projects that would otherwise not be possible due to complexity. These technologies will give us the ability to make molds with production times one quarter of the current required time to manufacture a traditional mold.

In CNC machining we continue to pursue replacing the majority of our 3 axis with 5-7 axis machines. This will increase our capacity for more complex machining projects. Furthermore, we continue to offer Form In Place (FIP) precision gasketing. While a fairly new capability, we have received stellar reviews from our customers. Sometimes new technology is a direct result of something we are trying to offer our customers but many times, it is something a customer has requested we do for them so they can keep their project as seamless as possible, under one roof. We continue to explore material and application options to broaden our expertise with FIP.

Our pursuit of solenoid manufacturing over the last 3 years has given us the ability to offer additional capabilities such as bobbin manufacturing and winding, transfer molding and additional precision machining opportunities. This is a wonderful example of utilizing multiple capabilities that we offer, all at once. We get to be our own supplier by creating different parts within multiple departments to get a finished unit. Having expertise in areas of Injection Molding, CNC Machining, and Additive Manufacturing has allowed us to be a better supplier for our customers. They often have multiple components within a project and we are able to assist them the whole way through.

We have complimented our injection molding by mastering the transfer molding process. We believe the future of our Injection Molding capability falls within the areas of Medical, Aerospace and other industries that have higher requirements for precision, technical engineering characteristics and tight tolerances. These customers have challenges that many manufacturers would turn away from. We offer experience and expertise that embraces the most difficult, unique, complex, and challenging projects. These challenges are motivating and inspiring. They drive us to create new processes, procedures and products that would otherwise not be possible if we were not willing to take on these challenges.

While the past year has been difficult for everyone in a myriad of ways, it has also brought gifts. We are so grateful to our employees who have come to work donning their masks every day. While it may be uncomfortable or inconvenient, it is a message to everyone that you care, and that is a wonderful message to send to coworkers. Several opportunities to contribute our capabilities and expertise toward the Covid 19 pandemic have come about. We have worked with individuals creating new products. We are manufacturing components utilized in testing for the disease. Also a mask design has been taken from concept to completion in about a week. This included making a mold and beginning to produce parts. The pandemic is changing the way we do things, including manufacturing. For many, having virtual meetings is a new thing but it’s a service we have utilized regularly for at least a decade. Being ready and available to change directions, adopt new technology or experience some discomfort is all part of being a successful business, today and in the future.

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